America is getting very adept at winning every battle in the foreign wars it wages, yet having nothing to show for it after the U.S. military comes home.
It was a trend started in Vietnam.
It appears to be happening, again, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What did we win in Iraq, besides toppling Saddam Hussein from power and watching him hanged?
We saw most of the Christian population killed or driven into refugee status.
We saw Iran empowered in influence in a country it had previously battled in an eight-year war costing the lives of 1 million people.
We watched as chemical weapons, which Saddam Hussein had used as no other leader in the world had since Adolf Hitler during World War II, were moved to neighboring Syria in anticipation of the U.S. invasion.
Ironically, according to a credible report in the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal, those chemical weapons are now headed back to … Iraq.
The news organization reported Sunday some 20 trucks worth of equipment and material used for the manufacture of chemical weapons were transported into Iraq.
Of course, as expected, the government in Baghdad denies it all.
The report came just a day after the United States and Russia struck a deal stipulating that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime would destroy its chemical arsenal to avert an American military assault.
The newspaper reported with a high degree of specificity that the trucks crossed the boundary separating Syria with Iraq from Thursday to Friday. Border guards did not inspect the contents of the trucks, which raises suspicions that they contained illicit cargo, according to Al-Mustaqbal.
It’s worth noting that Al-Mustaqbal is a publication known for opposing Syria’s involvement in Lebanon. But the report in Lebanon agrees with earlier statements of the Free Syrian Army.
Who knows what to believe about what comes out of this part of the Middle East, where politics involves far more intrigue than most Americans could ever keep up with?
But the report raises the question Americans should be asking themselves after the blood, sweat and tears it invested in “freeing” Iraq from the reins of the madman Saddam Hussein.
What did we win in Iraq?
Was it all worth it?
What strategic objectives did we achieve?
Did we make America safer?
Did we make Iraq a more hospitable place?
Will Iraqis be able to govern themselves for the long term?
What will we do with the most expensive embassy ever built by any nation in the history of the world as the number of American diplomatic personnel is further reduced?
Is the Middle East a better place for having eliminate the tyrant?
Are religious minorities – namely Christians – better off or worse off for America’s involvement in this war?
Will Iraq swing to an alliance with Iran and Syria?
How will our involvement and sacrifice affect Iraq’s policy toward friends like Israel?
There are really only two spheres of influence in the Arab and Muslim world: They are Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Neither of these nations are what average Americans would perceive as forces of liberty and progress. They are mortal enemies – a fact most Americans just don’t comprehend. Islam is not a united religion. It is divided among two powerful cults – Shiites and Sunnis.
Americans like to think of good guys and bad guys. Unfortunately, in the Middle East, good guys are in very short supply. It’s more pragmatic to think of countries and regimes that are “less evil” – something average Americans have a very hard time with.
Sometimes, the very best we can expect from regimes in the Middle East is that they use their authority and power to protect the non-combatants – those who are neither Sunni or Shia.
That’s what Iraq’s Saddam Hussein did.
That’s what Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak did.
That’s what Syria’s Bashar Assad has done.
We toppled the first two – and Barack Obama is sworn to topple the last one on the list.
Because he, not unlike his predecessors in the White House, finds it profitable to support the wishes of the Sunni Saudis.
It’s just that simple. That’s why we fight – continually – in the Middle East and Central Asia.
It has nothing to do with vital U.S. interests. It has to do with the vital interests of the House of Saud.
Of course, it can be quite profitable for U.S. leaders to side with the House of Saud. Jimmy Carter found it so. He has been on their payroll ever since – making more money from Saudi Arabia than he ever made as a peanut farmer or as president of the United States. George H.W. Bush found it so. His family made more money for doing Saudi Arabia’s bidding than he ever did as a congressman, as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and as president. Bill Clinton certainly did. He never held a private sector job before being elected president. He made $35,000 a year as governor of Arkansas. Yet he and Hillary are very wealthy today because they did Saudi Arabia’s bidding when they were in the White House. George W. Bush did the same. And so is Barack Obama.
What did we win in Iraq?
We won riches for our ex-presidents.
I know this may upset the families of those who lost loved ones in Middle East conflicts. It upsets me, too. But I need to say it so that we don’t sacrifice the lives of any more heroic American soldiers destined to serve as mercenaries of Saudi Arabia while thinking they are fighting for the high ideals of American freedom as soldiers, sailor and airmen in the U.S. military forces.
Enough is enough.